I’m always drawn to a great story – more so when there’s an underdog; I still cry when watching Rocky or Secretariat or any of the other tug-at-your-heart-strings kind of movies – even when I know how the story ends. I want the good guy to get the girl, I am a sucker for a great love story and want star-crossed lovers to find their happy ending; I want there to be peace and harmony in the world. Clearly, I am a sap – but it’s always about the story for me.
A few months ago, I was sent a copy of The B.T.C. Old-fashioned Grocery Store Cookbook; I’ve written reviews here before but most of those are for people I know – not the case with The B.T.C. The note from the publisher said this book was different from some of the other cookbooks in that it was filled with stories about a grocery store located in the small town of Water Valley, Mississippi; ‘bucolic’ is the word that jumped from the page.
In 2010 Alexe van Beuren and her husband turned a historic building into a grocery store filled with hopes and dreams, glass-bottled milk, Cora’s fried pies and local produce. But failure seemed imminent until 5-star chef Dixie Grimes walked through the doors looking for a job – and within a few short months, folks were lined up out the doors to get a taste of her food.
Honey Goat Cheese Frittatas, Mississippi Catfish Gumbo, Kagan’s Dill Pickles, Southern Yellow Squash Casserole, Coulter’s Beans and Rice and Steel Magnolia Cake are just a few of the 120 recipes you’ll find here.
The book is rich not only in traditional food of the South, but also rich with stories about the people who live in the community as well as the farmers who provide much of the produce sold at the B.T.C. I read the cookbook cover-to-cover in one sitting, catching a glimpse into the lives of the people in that bucolic town, wishing they were my neighbors, wishing I could take a walk down to The B.T.C. for a slice of Peach Icebox Pie and to catch up on the news of the day.
This is an underdog story about small town folks with big dreams and enough perseverance and grit to make it happen. I see a road-trip in The Professor’s and my future; hot summer day, camera in hand, meandering the sidewalks, saying ‘hello’ to those we meet, looking them in the eye and smiling. And I’m certain we’ll grab something from The B.T.C. for a picnic in the park.
It’s Spring here in the Midwest (finally!) and asparagus and seasonal strawberries are plentiful; this Asparagus and Strawberry Salad is light, bright, sweet and tangy meal – perfect for enjoying as a side or make it a main course with a good chunk of bread and some cheese.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Store Cookbook free of charge; however, all opinions are mine.
ASPARAGUS AND STRAWBERRY SALAD
The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 pounds fresh asparagus, cleaned and cut on the bias
- 4 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned and halved
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place asparagus in a large skillet and add 1 cup of water just until the asparagus is covered; add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil, blanch for 2 to 3 minutes or until the asparagus is bright green and al dente
- Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and cool completely
- Remove asparagus from the bowl and pat dry with paper towels
- Place the asparagus into a medium-sized bowl, add strawberries and toss gently
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper
- Pour the dressing over the asparagus strawberry mixture; refrigerate for one hour before serving